ROYERSFORD >> The Spring-Ford boys lacrosse team has designs on making more than a few championship moments this season.
So much so, the Rams have decided to treat every game like it is a championship encounter.
They didn’t have to dream much Friday night when facing Owen J. Roberts, the team they have faced in every Pioneer Athletic Conference final since the league formed 10 years ago.
It went like so many recent clashes – an even battle for long stretches followed by the Rams finding a way to head home happy.
It came in the form of a seven-goal outburst in the fourth quarter as a one-goal game at halftime turned into an 11-4 Spring-Ford victory at Coach McNelly Stadium.
Danny Cassidy and Kevin Todd each scored three goals and had an assist while Ray Orcutt contributed two goals and two assists.
It was another signature win in a season that already has a few of them – the Rams are 4-0 (2-0 PAC), including a 9-3 win over perennial District 1 contender Avon Grove and a 17-3 demolition of Springfield-Delco, the team that broke their hearts in the District 1 quarterfinals in 2015 and went on the win the title.
“We switched our mentality this year,” said senior defender Liam Hare, the reigning PAC Defensive Player of the Year. “We’ve had the tendency of playing up to teams and play well, but we can also play down to teams. But this year coach Donnelly is preaching to us that we want to treat every game like a championship. That’s the mentality going into every game that we want to play every game like it’s a championship or lose it and you’re done for the season.”
That signaled bad news for the Wildcats (1-1, 1-2), which were in excellent position down 3-2 at halftime but couldn’t find the attack it would take to break down Hare, Tanner Romano, Nick Crawford and goalie Chris Morgan (7 saves).
The unit looked in late-season form already, rarely allowing the Wildcats high quality scoring chances.
“(The key was) team defense, a lot of communication, slides, recovery,” Hare said. “We’re pretty experienced. I’ve been playing with Tanner, Nick and Kyle for a while. We’re used to playing with each other. We’ve got it down to a science I guess.”
The Rams defense was the featured group in holding OJR to solo tallies from Andrew Siana, Jack Colt (one assist), Evan Massa and Noah Calle, and allowing time for the attack to sort itself out.
“Through the first three quarters we were really very sloppy,” Cassidy said. “Not defensively, though. But offensively we just weren’t playing our game. They play pretty fast, like to push it a lot and that’s not our strongest style. Rather than slowing it down we got into their tempo and tried to push it a lot and that didn’t really turn out well for us.”
Cassidy’s bouncer gave Spring-Ford a 4-2 lead with 7:50 in the third quarter, a score which held entering the fourth.
To open the fourth, face-off man Justin Schwenk controlled the ball and found Matt Dellacroce for an immediate goal and the floodgates opened.
Cassidy and Todd each scored twice in the seven-goal surge in the final quarter, taking any doubt out of the game.
It was another painful chapter for the Wildcats, who haven’t been able to solve the Rams’ puzzle since April 3, 2013 – a span of nine meetings.
“They weren’t letting things bother them. We were working together well,” coach Jeff Neese said. “Then it’s one down, another down and everybody thinks ‘There’s the monster that’s Spring-Ford. We’re done.’
“None of these kids have beaten them in their four years. It’s a mental capacity that they need to overcome. It will be different at Owen J., mark my words. By that time we’ll have enough experience to overcome the shortfalls that we had tonight.”
Going forward, Spring-Ford’s mind may be set on treating things like a championship. Conversely, OJR will have to treat everything like a new dawn.
NOTES >> Rounding out the Rams’ scoring was Jake Hvazda (one goal, one assist) while Hare had a first-half goal. … OJR goalie JC Capaldo had 10 saves.